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New Special Assistant to US Commission on Civil Rights has Questionable Civil Rights Record

Hans A von Spakovsky is a new special assistant to the US Commission on Civil Rights. The choice of von Spakovsky is controversial because of his questionable history on voting rights. Most notably, he pushed for the approval of a voter identification law in Georgia that “critics claimed made it difficult for poor people and the elderly to vote,” according to the Washington Post.

Von Spakovsky was appointed to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by George W. Bush and was renominated to serve on the Federal Election Commission in 2007. Von Spakovsky withdrew his nomination in May 2008. A number of criticisms came to light as a result of his nomination. Most notably, a letter from career staff of the Voting Section of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division who had worked with von Spakovsky argued against his confirmation.

Among other things, the letter stated that “Prior to his coming to the Civil Rights Division in 2001, Mr. von Spakovsky had vigorously advocated the need to combat the specter of voter fraud through restrictive voter identification laws. In testimony before legislative bodies and in his writings, Mr. von Spakovsky premised his conclusions upon the notion – not well-supported at the time and now discredited – that there was a widespread problem with ineligible voters streaming into the polling place to influence election outcomes.”

Commissioner Michael Yakki, one of two Democrats on the commission, opposes the move and commented that “usually assistants are young folks out of law school who are excited to learn, not a way station for retreads who’ve been criticized for their less than sterling defense of voting rights laws,” according to the Washington Post.

Sources:

Washington Post 8/22/08; Letter to Senate Committee on Rules and Administration 6/11/07; Letter to George W. Bush 5/16/08